Australia may delay gay equality proposals

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The government of Australia is considering whether or not to bring forward measures in next month’s Budget that will give same-sex couples equality in a range of areas.

Last year the country’s Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission (HREOC) report was presented to the federal parliament listing the 58 laws that need to be changed to grant gay, bisexual and lesbian Australians equal rights.

The Labour party promised reform during last year’s elections, including tackling the unequal treatment of an estimated 20,000 same-sex couples in tax, pensions, old age care, health benefits and insurance.

Now in government, the party has discovered the changes will cost $400m (£190m) over four years and is considering postponing their introduction until next year.

Labour deny they are back-tracking on the issue for cost reasons.

In a recent interview with The Australian newspaper Attorney-General Robert McClelland said there were 100 federal laws that are disciminatory, more than previously thought.

The HREOC report, presented to the federal parliament in June, listed 58 laws that need to be changed to grant gay, bisexual and lesbian Australians equal rights.

At present same-sex couples and families get fewer leave entitlements, less workers’ compensation, fewer tax concessions, fewer veterans’ entitlements, fewer health care subsidies, less superannuation and pay more for residential aged care than opposite-sex couples in the same circumstances.

Human rights commissioner Graeme Innes told The Australian

“The issue here is a basic right and that is the right to equality, and we don’t judge those in financial terms.

“The budget is the absolutely right time to send that message that couples shouldn’t be treated differently simply because of who they love.”

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